SNL: S36E08... HOST: ROBERT DE NIRO... DATE: DECEMBER 4, 2010

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Not So Raging Host

 

Oh boy. Just yesterday, I was complaining about having nothing to say about Anne Hathaway, claiming it was because I was so unfamiliar with her work, yet here we are with Robert De Niro, who I know pretty well and I’m still sitting here drawing a blank. Wait… now that I think of it… this is De Niro’s thirst visit which also links him to the episodes hosted by Scarlett Johansson, and Jon Hamm. They both hosted their third show this year as well, and just like the two of them, I wasn’t a fan of De Niro’s first visit and saw improvement in his second, but still saw room for improvement. I now hope that he follows the trend they set by making this year the best visit of his three.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If the episode inspires me to add any new insights, I’m going to try adding it to the end of my notes from the real-time viewing, instead of doing what I’ve been doing up until now where I jump back and forth like a time traveler. We’ll see how I like this new approach, but for now, it’s time to start the show.

As you know, in these recent seasons, I haven’t been a huge fan of the opening political content. I did, however, think tonight’s sketch that treated WikiLeaks as if it were TMZ was pretty fun because unlike most of the other political references, WikiLeaks has become even more relevant to me, because I was just aware of the site back then. Not that I’m deep into it now, but I'm always drawn towards issues related to freedom of speech no matter what the topic. It was also interesting to see that, at least through the sketch, they joked that Assange had it in for Hillary even way back then.

Robert De Niro’s monolog was pretty fun, but at the same time, he has that old-timers deliver that felt like acting and not like the words were coming from the top of his head. This is fine, but I’ve just been noticing how it seems to be the newbies and the oldies who seem to have this approach, while the people in the middle seem a lot more conversational and less like they are about to hand out an award. I didn’t really care for the sketch that made fun of the prolific author, and not just because I have a drawer full of first drafts that need to be reworked, I just didn’t think it was all that funny at all.

Of course, What Up With That is always fun especially since the real Robin Williams was there to play along. Unfortunately, though, Robin sat in the seat where the guest barely gets to say anything at all. That said, it was funny how Robin Williams was supposed to just sit there silently and act annoyed, only he couldn’t seem to stop himself from moving to the music whenever they started the theme song, which might also be why he kept checking his phone to act as a distraction.

Just like with the joke about the prolific writer, wasn’t a real big fan but this time I know it’s because the humor comes from De Niro being a physically abusive dad, which wasn’t funny, and then the jokes about the bugs in the food were too simple and mundane. I kind of feared the Weekend At Bernie’s parody because there has been a couple of sketches this year that reference material where the original was funnier than any of the new jokes. That said, I’m also a big enough fan of the real movie, there was also a good chance that I would like it either way. Thankfully, I loved the joke where nobody bought into the fact that De Niro wasn’t dead.

I’m not a huge fan of Diddy, or whatever he’s going by these days but I liked the non-rap portion of the song, keeping in mind, that I listened to nothing but rap when I was a kid all the way through high school, and it’s not that I’m writing off rap at all. I was also a West Coast kid so that probably also helps. The news was the news as usual. I don’t know or care about the Kardashians, so their segment didn’t matter much. I was surprised that Seth worked in a Polack this late in the game, but found the stuck upside down Spiderman and Jazzercising Kristen Wiig were both kind of fun.

As usual, I liked the Little Folkers sketch that took up behind the scenes of the film set because it took me back to the days when I used to work on movies, so it was fun to see some of the more obscure behind-the-scenes references. Not only that, but the jabs that Bobby Moynihan got to make towards Bobby D. got me to laugh out loud a couple of times. I was never all that much of a fan of Blizzard Man back when he has introduced a few seasons ago and was kind of bummed to see that they brought him back because it means that might use him more. It was pretty funny to see De Niro in drag because he looked like Bono and Robin Williams had a love child who was older than them and crammed into a terrible wig.

I’ve also never like Bill Hader’s Italian talk show host character, but the segment was at least growing on me before it too disappeared. Though I still don’t like the language barrier aspect, I do enjoy the surreal wackiness that takes place when Bobby Moynihan joins the scene as Hader’s son as well as the other weird distraction. Minus the outside crazy actions, this series is pretty much nothing more than an accent-base joke that I’ve grown to hate over the years.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you may already know how I feel about them repeating ads from the same year, especially this late into the age of the internet, so I hated the repeat ad for Bosley Hair. Where I at least like the singing in the first Diddy Dirty Money performance, I wasn’t a fan of any aspect of their second song. I was, however, a fan of the sketch where the answer of who you have to screw to get a drink in a bar is finally answered because it was a hilarious take on the saying that somehow managed to avoid a man on man make out session and only hinted at it.

I’m still on the fence about these new Fred Wolf animations that have now ended a couple of nights. I’m a big fan of Fred Wolf and love how he uses classic cast members to voice his characters but, at least so far, both have been just sort of cute without any real hard laughs and not cute in the way of the sentimental end of the night sketches that I always love.  

Once again, I was ready for the show to be over by the time De Niro returned to the stage to say his good nights. Tonight’s episode not only wasn’t the best or worst from this season but it also wasn’t the best or worst of the three of De Niro’s visits since I recall liking his second appearance as host to be the best from him so far. I would say that it might be because they kept things too safe because they respect Robert De Niro’s career, but they managed to bash a few of his roles, threw him in drag, and had him as a bar old drifter who gets banged by other men in exchange for adult beverages.

Then again, that might have been the actual problem because now that I’m in my forties, I no longer see old people doing degenerate things all that funny. The act as if every old person has an innocent past, especially now that the hippies are old and every living generation had their version of rock and roll, and all used booze and drugs is ridiculous. So I just found those types of sketches to just be sort of fun minus the shock value laughs that may have been intended. All the other sketches just felt too safe and left me feeling a little bored, but as usual, I was still entertained by what I just watched, but at the same time the overall slower energy to the night left it feeling pretty average.

With that, it’s time to start to wrap this one up by shift gears to dig deeper into the details, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called  WikiLeaks: TMZ where Bill Hader as Julian Assange interrupted a message from Fred Armisen as Barack Obama to share footage of politicians caught in compromising positions with each video shot in the style of a TMZ ambush clip. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, this eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Robert De Niro then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy he was to be back in his hometown to host the episode, only to mix up several facts from other cities while sharing his love for New York.

  3. We then got a fake ad for The Abacus Conundrum where Robert De Niro as a prolifically published author named Harlan Kane to announce his latest tome of his work that was pitched with urgency to get it right away before the next flood of his titles would be released.

  4. What Up With That? then returned with more of Kenan Thompson as the talk show host who continually cuts off all of his guests by singing his show’s theme song. This week his guests were Robert De Niro and the late/great Robin Williams.

  5. From The Garden With Mr. Produce had Robert De Niro as the titular garden fresh cooking show host who attempted to shoot his demo only to discover that his produce is riddled with bugs. It then turns out that this happened because Andy Samberg as De Niro’s angst-ridden son forgot to spray the plant while his dad was out of town for his guest spot on The Today Show. This led the two to get into multiple passive-aggressive arguments while live on the air.

  6. We then got another SNL Digital Short called Party At Mr. Bernard’s which was pretty much a parody of Weekend At Bernie’s with Robert De Niro in the Mr. Bernard role.

  7. Diddy Dirty Money then took to the stage to performs Coming Home.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Nasim Pedrad, Abby Elliott, and Vanessa Bayer stopped by as the Kardashians to apologize for their failed attempt to start issuing their own credit cards. Andy Samberg also dropped in as Spiderman from the Broadway Musical and gets stuck hanging upside down while telling tales of accidents inflicted upon all of his predecessors. Kristen Wiig was the final guest as an aerobics instructor from 1982 to work out while providing weight-loss tips for the obese. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  9. Little Fockers took us behind-the-scenes of the movie De Niro was on to promote along with his co-star Ben Stiller. In it, Bobby Moynihan played a kid who got to visit the set and was blown away by everyone on the set but was totally unimpressed by Bobby D.

  10. Blizzard Man returned after a really long break that took place in musical guest, P, Diddy’s recording studio where Andy Samberg played a rapper named Blizzard Man and Robert De Niro played his mom, and the two were this to lay down a track as featured artists on Diddy’s next album.

  11. La Rivista Della Televisione brought back Bill Hader’s Italian talk show host character who doesn’t speak a lick of English, while Robert De Niro played his guest who knew not a word in Italian, while other wacky stuff goes on.

  12. We then got a repeat of the Bosley Hair Restoration commercial from earlier in the season which was a hair replace men system that uses their client’s pubes.

  13. Diddy Dirty Money then took to the stage with Swizz Beatz to perform Ass on the Floor.

  14. It's A Living took place in a bar where after a long days work, Andy Samberg made the joke, “Who do you have to screw to get a beer?” To his surprise, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller then appeared as two long-haired drifters who turned out to be the answer to his question.

  15. Greetings From American America: I, Hippie was another Fred Wolf animation that had Dana Carvey as the voice of an old hippie who’s tripping balls while talking about the good old days before it was revealed that he was actually at work in McDonald’s.

  16. Finally, Robert De Niro then closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I always say, average is actually pretty good and not a slam, and thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, tonight’s show landed on the high end of average. First, I loved this week’s SNL Digital Short: Party At Mr. Bernard’s because I always loved Weekend At Bernie’s, and this parody’s twist that everyone clearly sees that their Bernie figure is dead which caused them all to freak out was hilarious. Next, I really liked It's A Living because it was funny to see the “Who do I have to screw to get a drink,” play out in this way. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s What Up With That because it was fun to see the late/great Robin Williams, even though he didn’t have all that much to do in the scene.

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.